Covid-19 Patent Trolling Over Life-Saving Medical Devices?

Should patents be enforced over life-saving devices when the patent holder (or a holder of a license from a patent holder) is unable to supply the patented device in a timely manner? That’s just one the questions raised by this short, interesting piece reporting on the ingenious use of a 3D printer to make medical devices and save lives over the objections of the patent-holding medical device company. >>>

LINK: Medical company threatens to sue volunteers that 3D-printed valves for life-saving coronavirus treatments (by Jay Peters for The Verge)

A medical device manufacturer has threatened to sue a group of volunteers in Italy that 3D printed a valve used for life-saving coronavirus treatments. …

A hospital in Italy was in need of the valves after running out while treating patients for COVID-19. The hospital’s usual supplier said they could not make the valves in time to treat the patients, according to Metro. That launched a search for a way to 3D print a replica part, and Cristian Fracassi and Alessandro Ramaioli, who work at Italian startup Isinnova, offered their company’s printer for the job, reports Business Insider.

However, when the pair asked the manufacturer of the valves for blueprints they could use to print replicas, the company declined and threatened to sue for patent infringement, according to Business Insider Italia. Fracassi and Ramaioli moved ahead anyway by measuring the valves and 3D printing three different versions of them.

“[The patients] were people in danger of life, and we acted. Period,” said Fracassi in a Facebook post. He also said that “we have no intention of profit on this situation, we are not going to use the designs or product beyond the strict need for us forced to act, we are not going to spread the drawing.”

What do you think?


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